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Equifinality in the Smallholder Slot: Cash Crop Development in the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesian Borneo

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This article presents a comparative ethnography of the smallholder agroforestry projects of an international environmental organization. Migrant ranchers in Brazil sell cattle from private properties in a heavily-deforested landscape. Indigenous farmers in Indonesia rely on subsistence food production on customary lands in a heavily-forested landscape. Despite these differences, the projects identify both migrant ranchers and indigenous farmers as “smallholders” and prescribe cash crop agroforestry as the solution to both their predicaments. In the face of expanding ranches and plantations, this cash crop solution accepts the destruction of forest ecosystems and livelihoods as inevitable, funneling smallholders into market agroforestry in agro-industrial landscapes. This article strengthens the case for comparative ethnography and challenges discursive conflations and political-economic biases of prevailing sustainable development policies.
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Keywords: AGROFORESTRY; BRAZIL; DEFORESTATION; DIALECTICS; ETHNOGRAPHY; INDONESIA; PLANTATION; SMALLHOLDER

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2021

This article was made available online on December 3, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Equifinality in the Smallholder Slot: Cash Crop Development in the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesian Borneo".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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